Sunday, March 29, 2009

Friend of Simplicity - Marilyn Jess

Today my guest for the Simplicity interview is Marilyn Jess who I came across through my Simplicity Blog about three years ago. Marilyn always offers great comments and we have a healthcare career in common.

Marilyn is a very well qualified speaker and offers professional guidance to those who are nervous about the art of public speaking.

I'm sure you will enjoy reading about Marilyn's work and career - please let her have your comments.

Trevor - Where are you based in the US Marilyn and can you tell us a bit about your career to date?

Marilyn - I live in southwestern Vermont, near Albany, NY. I'm actually between my second and third careers. I went back to college, after dropping out early, and got a Masters in Nutritional Sciences in 1987. I'm a Registered Dietitian, and most recently a Licensed Wellcoach®. Last year I launched a new business as a speaker and speaking coach called “Speaking Of...,” giving workshops on improving communication skills. Because I have spent 20+ years in health care, my niche audience is health care professionals. I work online as a wellness coach, too.

Trevor - How did you first get into Toastmasters?

Marilyn - My husband Jim and I moved back to New England from California in 1997 to be near family. When I landed in the small town we moved to I knew no one here. I'd heard of Toastmasters, and since I spoke in my job I was curious about it. After attending three meetings as I guest, I was so impressed that I joined. That was 1998-I'm still in that club.

Trevor - What are the main benefits of joining Toastmasters?

Marilyn - You can take your speaking talent—and we all come to Toastmasters with talent on some level- and improve it as far as you want to go. The program is over 80 years old, and encompasses all aspects of how to speak successfully. You gain confidence and competence by preparing and giving many types of speeches. Another big benefit is the Toastmasters leadership track. You learn leadership by doing it—I can't think of a better way. Your listening skills become finely tuned, and that's a benefit that's priceless today. Most important, you express yourself better, in any situation.

Trevor - Can you give a few tips to those people who are nervous about public speaking?

Marilyn - To turn your signature phrase 'Preparation is the Key.' Learn as much as you can about your audience. That's an area many speakers don't do well enough. Outline your speech. Rehearse. Have a killer opening and close that you know cold. Tape yourself, time yourself. Drink LOTS of water beforehand. To perfect these skills — join a club

Trevor - I feel Mr Obama is a superb speaker. Do you agree and what are his special qualities?

Marilyn - Yes, I agree he is an effective speaker because he has a clear message. He knows history and uses that in his speaking. I have heard he writes his speeches, or major parts of them, as Lincoln did—that's a strength. I feel he could be even more effective if he worked on removing filler words from his speaking.

Trevor - Have you visited the UK and if not do you have plans to come to this side of the pond?

Marilyn - Sadly, I have not visited the UK—always wanted to. No current plans, and I want to see Scotland, England and Ireland!

Trevor - Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Marilyn - Check out my blog:

I'm on LinkedIn and Facebook too!

Trevor - That's great Marilyn - good luck in all that you do!


J.KANNAN said...

A very Good guest for the "simplicity" interview. Apart from being a very good guest,Marilyn is also very good at "Guess", that's why Marilyn is a well qualified speaker,professional guide and in Toastmaster's club for 11 years with Jim and still continues- and on this Special occasion, keeping in mind all the specialities in" Marylin Jess" possesses, I just would like to take the privilege of addressing Marilyn as "Marilyn Guess" and not "Jess"

The glittering face of Marilyn reads that she is a specialist in Nutritional Science and an expert dietitian- A multifaceted person-Very Good. Well, then ther's a lot to learn from Marilyn and let me try my luck at ""

Marilyn expresses better in any given situation(as you ave mentioned) Trevor, and that's the reason, her comments are always great and rich in its content.- Yes Marilyn, I too have heard some of the speeches Obama in clippings and you have rightly indicated thathe should try and eliminate the filler words as they might turn to be Killer words for some section of the audience.

All the best and good luck to you & Jim, Marilyn.


David Wike said...

Hi Marilyn,

Although I don’t have your level of experience, I too am a member of a speakers club. In the UK we have Toastmasters and the Association of Speakers Clubs. My club is a member of the latter. The aims and objectives are very similar but the approach is slightly different.

Although I had done many presentations during my corporate career, since joining a speakers club I have learned a great deal and have definitely improved my performance, so I would recommend it to anyone.

I agree with everything you’ve said and would add another couple of tips.

1. Make eye contact with everyone in the audience.
2. Don’t worry about being word perfect – delivery style if far more important than the actual words.
3. Don’t speak too quickly, and use pauses for impact – watch Barrack Obama and Tony Blair to appreciate this.

OK, I can’t count, that’s three tips!

I am pleased to say that my club has been asked recently to help a group of High School students to improve their communication skills. And the BBC is running a televised speaking competition for 14 to 18 year olds in the near future. The ability to communicate well is important for us all but it is especially pleasing to be able to help young people.

Keep up the good work!


Scott Peters said...

Marilyn is a great guest and speaks aboout important attributes of a great leader...communication.

Marilyn, I'm also a member of Toastmasters and received my Competent Communicator certification at the beginning of this year. Your thoughts about Toastmasters and speaking are spot on.

I believe that Obama is a good speaker, but not great. His thoughts flow well and he projects boldly, but if I was the Grammarian for his evaluation, I would butcher him on Ahhhsss and Ummmmmsss. In one of his first speeches, he must have used 40 or so in the first five minutes. My wife and I looked at each other and agreed that he should go to Toastmasters

or use Marilyn's skills!!!!!

dave wheeler said...


Thanks so much for another terrific interview. I always leave them with some "actionable" knowledge to apply on the job and Marilyn's comments and insight have been helpful indeed!

While I have never "formally" joined Toastmasters, I spent several years earning a Master Trainer certification from a Mentor who was Toastmasters to the core. It is truly amazing how the "little things" can make a great presentation an exceptional one

Do I detect that Marilyn is a bit of a golfer as well from her blog? Excellent indeed?

Thanks gain folks! Great stuff...

Marilyn Jess said...

Thank you so much for these kind words, especially....

JK--always a good dose of wisdom and perspective from you. You have the knack of making folk feel better!

David--a youth group? That's my dream group to work with. My club has recently signed on four newly unemployed members, and I can't wait to see the changes in them.

Scott--bravo on reaching your CC. I'm so proud of you. Hope you continue on the Advanced track.

Dave--I don't play golf, but I write about Tiger because he is so inspirational to me, and millions more.

Trevor Gay said...

What a terrific exchange - the best part about having Simplicity Blog is to see links formed. The world is becoming a very small place. Three continents; at least three time zones and yet so much in commmon. Thanks again folks.

Nick McCormick said...

I realize I am a bit late to the party here, but I did finally get an opportunity to read Marylyn's post.

Thanks for plugging Toastmasters, Marilyn. I am a member myself and have seen the improvement it has made to many - including me. Not only that, the meetings are a lot of fun.

Marilyn Jess said...

Dear Nick,

Thanks for these kind words. It is amazing to see the transformation after a few months in Toastmasters. Even after 11 years in TI I still learn so much. Wish me luck, I'm in another District contest this month!

Dave--I wrote another post about Tiger on my blog :)